My “Fifty Shades of Grey” Rant
I knew there would come a time when I’d face a real purchasing dilemma regarding Random House e-book pricing, but it has come sooner than I anticipated. Who could have imagined the day when a paperback book that normally sells for $9.98 in print would be priced at $47.85 in e-book format for libraries! (I should note that individual readers can purchase it from Amazon in Kindle format for $9.99 and from Barnes and Noble in Nook format for that same low price.) The fact that the paperback in question is Fifty Shades of Grey, the wildly popular erotic tale by E.L. James shouldn’t enter into my purchasing decision, but I’m afraid it does. This isn’t a question of censoring content, but rather the fact that it hasn’t gotten good literary reviews. I don’t hesitate for a moment in buying “bodice rippers” for my e-book readers since they are normally under $10.00 per book. These are popular and I don’t care if they are quality prose or just casual reading. But when I have to fork over almost $50.00 of library funds for a paperback in e-book format that has little chance of being a literary classic, I have to think twice. I’ve already purchased two licenses for this e-book, but now I’ve got 25 local holds and need to purchase several more. Our OverDrive consortium has 550 holds for 25 member libraries, so I know our patrons will have a very long wait if I don’t beef up our local numbers. The kicker is that this is the first book in a trilogy. Guess what will happen after everyone reads book #1 – yep, I’ll have a mountain of holds on the next two in the series. They also cost $47.85 per license! I can see my e-book budget taking a huge hit over the next few months.
In the end, I suspect that I will give in and pay what I consider an outrageous amount for two more licenses on the first book and then multiple copies for the next ones, but forgive me if I just have to give voice to my inner fury at the helplessness of libraries to get a decent pricing model from our publishers.